Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road, Singapore. Photo: Google Maps

A mobile phone retailer was raided on Friday by Singapore police under suspicion of illegal moneylending. The retailer’s shops are suspected of selling vouchers to foreign domestic workers who would then be allowed to make remittances to their home countries.

Acting upon a citizen’s report made on December 23, officers from the police’s unlicensed moneylending unit raided Kata Store, which has three branches at Lucky Plaza mall on Orchard Road, and took away three boxes of documents and receipts during the two-hour operation on January 25, the Shin Min Daily News reported.

Bright yellow signs saying “Remittance vouchers available” were also seized from the shops, which were allegedly popular with Filipina domestic workers.

Preliminary investigations showed that after buying a voucher at Kata, the Filipinas could then visit a remittance agency named Brunphil Express on the second level of the same mall to send money to their families in the Philippines.

A Filipino domestic worker calling herself Marimar said that, as she already had debts of S$1,700 (US$1,256) with two licensed moneylenders, she could only take a loan from the mobile phone retailer in the form of a S$700 remittance voucher so she could have enough money to send home.

For a $700 remittance voucher, the purchaser had to pay an upfront fee of S$102. She would also have to repay S$153 a month for the following five months and S$148 as a final installment, meaning that she actually had to pay S$1,025, or 45% more than the S$700 she initially borrowed.

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